REVIEW: Superbad [R]
Sony Pictures/Apatow Productions
Release Date: December 4, 2007
Directors: Greg Mottola
Starring: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Seth Rogan, Bill Hader
In the summer of 2007, Hollywood saw more blockbusters released than possibly ever, with proven-franchises finding success in sequels (Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End), as well as in feature-film debuts (Transformers, The Simpsons Movie). But that summer also saw the rejuvenation of the often-times ill-fated R-Rated comedy, with Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow responsible. Not only did they work together on the critically acclaimed Knocked Up, but they used their now proven formula of smart and witty humor to balance out the sexual connotations that often dominate the high school comedy genre here in Superbad.
With Rogan already having worked with rising star, and Apatow mainstay, Jonah Hill (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Walk Hard) in Knocked Up, and Michael Cera providing the awkward humor along with the quick, subtle comebacks he perfected on the Emmy-Award-winning sitcom Arrested Development, the comedic expectations here should be rightfully held to high standards. Newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Little Big Men) compliments the stars well in his acting debut as Fogell, a friend of Seth and Evan’s who fits in even less than they do.
Evan (Cera) likes Becca (Martha MacIsaac, The Last House on the Left), a girl in his math class, but he lacks the nerve to approach her as more than a friend. Instead, a firm believer in chivalry, he offers to let her borrow (and eventually keep) pencils and treat her with respect, in hopes that she will like him the same.
Seth (Hill) has a crush on Jules (Emma Stone, The Rocker), the popular girl in school who, unlike the rest of the student body, has maintained a friendship with Seth throughout school, despite their evident differences in the social reign of order. When the two end up as lab partners in culinary arts class, Jules invites Seth to the big party she is throwing that night. Intent on impressing her, Seth insists on providing booze for the party.
With Fogell getting a fake ID during lunch period, both Seth and Evan decide to win their girls by means of alcohol. Seth plots to bring the entire supply of booze for the party, and Evan offers to pay for a bottle of Becca’s favorite brand of Vodka. Unfortunately, Fogell’s new ID states that he is a 25-year-old organ donor from Hawaii. Oh, and his name is McLovin. One name, three syllables. Yeah, let the adventure begin.
While the main story, which is told within a 24-hour period, is driven by Seth and Evan’s relationship, many of the film’s most memorable moments occur with neither protagonist on-screen. Mintz-Plasse is a scene-stealer, as are Officers Slater (Bill Hader, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Michaels (Rogan), two slacker cops who take a liking to Fogell, or rather, McLovin.
Even though Superbad will find itself compared to recent, similarly themed comedies such as the American Pie or Harold & Kumar franchises, this film blends both the high-school comedy and the buddy comedy genres together seamlessly, in turn creating something that will surprise skeptics who may have written the film off as sophomoric because of its plot.
It seems ironic that Apatow has been able to find so much success as a filmmaker recently, as he was once known only as being the creative mind behind a pair of failed television endeavors (both of which are more than worthy of the cult-following they’ve maintained, by the way).
This film warrants its R-rating within the first 15 minutes as Seth is loud, insanely explicit, and very straight-forward with his sexual intentions. Evan, on the other hand, is being soft-spoken, respectful, and painfully shy. The yin to the other’s yang, where Seth is driven purely by emotion, determined to get both drunk and laid, in that order, no matter the cost, Evan is the voice-of-reason and moral-center of the friendship, as well as the film itself.
There is an underlying theme and message throughout the film about acceptance with our protagonists truly becoming heroes in this film, heroes for every young male who doesn’t quite fit in, as well as for anyone struggling with a major transition period in life. The audience is bound to root for them to succeed with each wrong turn they take, as there is resilience found in their roles as underdogs. Their individual vices and follies only make them seem more deserving of their eventual successes.
Hopefully that success will also transfer over to their real-life counterparts as well. Cera and Hill both are two budding stars in comedy, and while Hill’s track record runs a little deeper due to his supporting roles in well-received hits, Cera already has a cult following due to his role as George Michael Bluth in the Emmy-Award winning Arrested Development (can an Emmy-Award winner BE a cult hit?) and in his lead role in the indie-sensation, Juno. These two are sure to keep us laughing for years, and thankfully they were able to do so together here.
Simply put, for anyone wanting to spend two hours in non-stop laughter, Superbad, produced by Apatow and co-written by Rogan (along with Evan Goldberg), is where it’s at.
– Christopher Griffin